Various places (for example, the books Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future by Stephen Kinzer and From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia by Pankaj Mishra) claim Ataturk said:

This is Islam, an absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.

and sometimes the book La mort d'un Empire (1954) by Jacques Benoist-Méchin is given as a source. Is there any truth in this?

  • 2
    WikiQuote removed it as "spurious", which resulted in some harsh words between the contributers. en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Mustafa_Kemal_Atat%C3%BCrk Apr 18, 2017 at 5:28
  • You could link some of the various places.
    – gerrit
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:03
  • Added two books. There are many tweets, blog posts, quote sites but I am not sure how much that adds, that's essentially gossip. The books at least are from respected authors (to some level).
    – chx
    Apr 18, 2017 at 19:00
  • A user on the wikiquote talk does name a source: the notes of Commander Kazim Karabekir named "Pasalarin Kavgasi".
    – SIMEL
    Apr 19, 2017 at 13:24
  • 1
    It's worth to note that Ataturk was the guy that made Turkey more or less secular under his role. It isn't at all far fetched that he said something in those lines.
    – T. Sar
    Apr 19, 2017 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


The source alluded to in the question, reliable or not, is Mustapha Kemal Ou La Mort D'Un Empire, which is the second volume of Le Loup et Le Léopard by Jacques Benoist-Méchin. No full English translation of this volume seems to exist.

According to a German blog post, the full quote attributed to Atatürk by Benoist-Méchin is as follows:

Depuis plus de 500 ans, les règles et les théories d’un vieux sheikh arabe, et les interprétations abusives de générations de prêtres crasseux et ignares ont fixé, en Turquie, tous les détails de la loi civile et criminelle. Elles ont réglé la forme de la constitution, les moindres faits et gestes de la vie de chaque citoyen, sa nourriture, ses heures de veille et de sommeil, la coupe de ses vêtements, ce qu’il apprend à l’école, ses coutumes, ses habitudes et jusqu’à ses pensées les plus intimes. L’islam, cette théologie absurde d’un bédouin immoral, est un cadavre putréfié qui empoisonne nos vies.

In Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries (published in 1998) Paul Fregosi, gives an abridged English translation of this quote, citing page 323 of Le Loup et Le Léopard. The last sentence of his translation is "Islam, this absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives". I have not yet found any older English publication with a similar quote.

I'm in no position to evaluate Benoist-Méchin's work, but there you have it.

  • 6
    The blog-post actually mentions that the quote is "historisch nicht gesichert" ( of unclear historical accuracy ). Apr 20, 2017 at 12:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .